“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."



African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Egypt university expels female student for hugging male friend

Yahoo – AFP, January 13, 2019

An Egyptian couple embracing during a stroll on Pharos Island in the port
of Alexandria (AFP Photo/MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)

Cairo (AFP) - Egypt's Al-Azhar university on Sunday said it had expelled a female student after she appeared in a video hugging a male colleague, accusing her of undermining the school's reputation.

The video, which went viral earlier this month, showed a young man carrying a bouquet of flowers kneeling before a young woman and then hugging her in what appeared to be a marriage proposal.

The video was apparently not filmed at Al-Azhar -- a branch of Egypt's highest Sunni Muslim authority -- but at another establishment, Mansoura University in the country's north.

Nevertheless the disciplinary council of the Al-Azhar University campus in Mansoura on Saturday "decided to expel the young girl definitively", university spokesman Ahmed Zarie told AFP.

He said the video had caused a "public outcry" and that the university's decision to expel her was because she had presented a "bad image" of Al-Azhar University, which strictly segregates the genders.

He said hugging between unmarried men and women violates "the values and principles of society".

The woman, however, can appeal the expulsion decision, Zarie said.

The young man who appeared in the video could also face sanctions, a spokesman for Mansoura University said, adding that the school's disciplinary council will meet on Monday to decide his "punishment".

Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country, is a largely conservative society.

Last year, prosecutors detained a female singer for four days for "incitement to debauchery" after an online video clip which included sensual oriental dances and suggestive gestures went viral.

And in 2017 another female pop singer was sentenced to two years in prison on similar charges, also over a video deemed provocative. Her sentence was reduced to a year on appeal.

Related Article:


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Morocco arrests Swiss man over links to hiker murder suspects

Yahoo – AFP, December 29, 2018

The High Atlas mountains, where Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old
Norwegian Maren Ueland were found dead at an isolated hiking spot on
December 17. (AFP Photo/FADEL SENNA)

Rabat (AFP) - A Swiss man living in Morocco was arrested in Marrakesh on Saturday, for alleged links to suspects in the recent murder of two female Scandinavian hikers, authorities said.

The man is "suspected of teaching some of those arrested in this case about communication tools involving new technology and of training them in marksmanship", Morocco's central office for judicial investigations said in a statement.

The counter-terror organ added he subscribed to "extremist ideology" and also has Spanish citizenship.

The ongoing investigation into the double murder uncovered the man was involved in the "recruitment of Moroccans and sub-Saharans to carry out terrorist plans in Morocco", the statement said.

Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland were found dead at an isolated hiking spot in the High Atlas mountains, south of Marrakesh on December 17.

The two women were beheaded, authorities have said.

Ahead of Saturday's arrest, Moroccan authorities had previously arrested 18 people for alleged links to the murders.

The four main suspects were arrested in Marrakesh and belonged to a cell inspired by Islamic State group ideology, Morocco's counter-terror chief Abdelhak Khiam told AFP this week.

But none of the four had contact with IS members in Syria or Iraq, he said.

The head of the suspected cell is 25-year-old street vendor Abdessamad Ejjoud, according to investigators.

He was identified in a video filmed a week before the double-murder, in which the four main suspects pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to authorities.

The killings have shaken Norway, Denmark and Morocco. Another video circulated on social networks allegedly showed the murder of one of the tourists.

Morocco, which relies heavily on tourism income, suffered a jihadist attack in 2011, when a bomb blast at a cafe in Marrakesh's famed Jamaa El Fna Square killed 17 people, mostly European tourists.

An attack in the North African state's financial capital Casablanca killed 33 people in 2003.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Moroccans pay homage to slain Scandinavian hikers

Yahoo – AFP, December 22, 2018

A Moroccan girl places a flower during a vigil for the two Scandinavian hikers,
who were killed in Morocco's High Atlas mountains, outside the Danish Embassy
in Rabat on December 22, 2018 (AFP Photo/FADEL SENNA)

Rabat (AFP) - Crowds of Moroccans gathered Saturday to mourn two Scandinavian hikers brutally murdered by suspected jihadists in the High Atlas mountains.

Hundreds of people paid tribute to Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland outside the embassies of their homelands in the capital Rabat.

Signs laid out or put by those gathered read "RIP Maren and Louisa", "Terrorism has no religion or nationality" and "Sorry".

A minute of silence was held in the presence of diplomats from Denmark and Norway.

In the southern village of Imlil, near where the bodies of the two hikers were found, hundreds of people paid their respects, while dozens more laid flowers and lit candles in tourist hub city Marrakesh.

A Moroccan man places a candle during a vigil for the two Scandinavian hikers, 
who were killed in Morocco's High Atlas mountains, outside the Danish Embassy
in Rabat on December 22, 2018 (AFP Photo/FADEL SENNA)

The grisly killings have shaken Morocco, where tourism is a cornerstone of the economy.

The bodies of the two women were found Monday after they had pitched their tent at an isolated mountain site around two hours' walk from Imlil.

One of them was beheaded, according to a source close to the investigation.

Thirteen people have been detained across the country in connection with the killings, which the authorities have classified as a "terrorist act".

The Danish and Norwegian ambassadors to Morocco have thanked the public and authorities in the country for their support and messages of condolence.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Boko Haram mastermind of deadly Nigeria blasts arrested: police

Yahoo – AFP, December 21, 2018

Two blasts simultaneously ripped through the suburbs of Kuje and Nyanya outlying
Abuja, the Nigerian capital, on October 2, 2015, leaving 18 people dead and 41
 injured (AFP Photo/PHILIP OJISUA)

Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - A top Boko Haram leader accused of organising deadly twin blasts in the Nigerian capital Abuja that killed 18 people has been arrested, police said Friday.

A police statement said Umar Abdulmalik and seven other jihadists were arrested, without giving details.

Forty-one people were also injured in the October 2, 2015 blasts which simultaneously ripped through the suburbs of Kuje and Nyanya outlying the federal capital.

The explosions happened near a police station in Kuje and at a bus stop in Nyanya.

Kuje, near Abuja’s airport, is 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of the city centre and seat of government. Its prison at the time held dozens of Boko Haram prisoners captured by troops.

The same bus station in Nyanya, to the east, was hit twice in 2014. The first attack, on 14 April 2014, left at least 75 dead and was claimed by the Islamists; the second, on 1 May, left at least 16 dead.

In the latest attack, the jihadists ambushed a military convoy in the northeastern state of Borno killing at least two soldiers, military sources told AFP Friday.

Thursday's attack saw them attacking with guns and rocket-propelled grenades on a convoy of troops near Bongori village in Damboa district, two military officers said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The troops from the state capital Maiduguri, the cradle of the Boko Haram movement, were heading to the town of Damboa, about 90 kilometres away.

Three soldiers were injured and an armoured vehicle was damaged, a military officer said. The second officer confirmed the information.

Boko Haram has intensified attacks on military targets in Borno and neighbouring Yobe state, killing dozens.

Last week, two Nigerian soldiers were killed in a roadside mine explosion outside the town of Gamboru near the border with Cameroon blamed on the jihadists troops.

More than 27,000 people have died since the start of the insurgency in the remote northeast in 2009 and 1.8 million have been made homeless.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Hundreds march in Sierra Leone against sexual violence

Yahoo – AFP, December 15, 2018

Sierra Leone wants to crack down on violence against women, particularly
sexual agression and rape (AFP Photo/ISSOUF SANOGO)

Freetown (AFP) - Hundreds of people demonstrated in Freetown on Saturday against sexual violence against women, days after the Sierra Leone government promised a crackdown on rape and sexual abuse.

Among the estimated 300 to 400 demonstrators was the country's first lady, Fatima Bio, who on Friday launched a programme called "Hands off our Girls" to combat sexual violence, child trafficking and prostitution, child marriage and teenage pregnancy.

The first ladies of Liberia, Niger, Ghana, Chad and Gambia gave their backing to the initiative.

Last month, President Julius Maada Bio called for life prison sentences for offenders.

The number of officially reported cases of sexual violence has risen from 4,750 in 2017 to 8,505 since the beginning of 2018, according to national police statistics.

The demonstrators were also joined by Justice Minister Priscilla Schwartz and Social Affairs Minister Daindu Dassama.

"I would advise the men in Sierra Leone to spare our girls," said Janet Kallon, an activist at the march.

"We want our daughters to go to school and to get an education."

Many sexual assault victims in Sierra Leone are teenagers, but younger children are also affected, with some abuse victims not even a year old.

On average every month, around 150 young women get pregnant due to rape, according to the Rainbow Initiative, a local organisation dedicated to the fight against sexual violence.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

S.Africa eyes green shoots in local cannabis industry

Yahoo – AFP, Michelle GUMEDE, 13 December 2018

Attendees were treated to a world of cannabis-derived products, from
medicinal oils, dog treats and even pure hemp clothing

South Africa on Thursday held its first cannabis industry exhibition since the constitutional court ruled private, personal cannabis use was legal, attracting scores of entrepreneurs and consumers.

Although no smoking was allowed at the venue, hundreds of people attended the trade show including producers, manufacturers, brand owners, distilleries and brewers.

"It is an enormous opportunity and I don't think people realise how big it is. If we look at the market, it is enormous when you look at what is happening in America and Canada," said Steve Carver, 50, a director at U Can Grow Africa which sub-lets land for cannabis cultivation.

Another attendee Sifiso Pretorius, who has a licence to cultivate the plant, said the profits derived from cannabis based products were "unbelievable".

"It's a huge industry and its mainly export based, dollar based. The potential is huge," he said.

The country's top court decriminalised private use and cultivation of the herb in September, although it did not decriminalise the use of the drug in public -- nor the offences of supplying or dealing.

From medicinal oils, dog treats and even pure hemp clothing, attendees were treated to a world of cannabis-derived products from the southern Africa region.

'Make this industry viable'

Zimbabwean-born fashion business owner Haanes Swan, 25, who sells tailored hemp clothing, praised the cost-effective nature of the plant.

"The fabric is four times stronger than cotton and takes half the amount of water to grow."

The country's top court decriminalised private use and cultivation of the 
herb in September

"Eventually we will grow hemp in Zimbabwe by the end of next year. We will be able to clothe people for almost next to nothing," Swan said.

For others, the decriminalisation is a chance to cash in on the budding industry in a country where unemployment is stubbornly high.

"I wanted information about growing and cultivating because I want to do that myself. I'm quite happy with what I got because I know where to find seeds and everything else to start," law student Amogelang Shadi, 24 said.

Dressed in Rastafari colours, director of the privately-owned Marijuana Board of South Africa, Rasta Sphesihle Madola, told AFP that the rasta community was also working with farmers and growers associations to profit from the plant.

"As we are rasta we are about the economy of cannabis, we know that it makes money in the world. We call on international investors to invest and make this industry viable," Madola added.

The South African parliament now has just under 24 months to draft new laws that reflect the decriminalisation court order.

Attendees were treated to a world of cannabis-derived products, from medicinal oils, dog treats and even pure hemp clothing

The country's top court decriminalised private use and cultivation of the herb in September.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Nobel laureates challenge world to end sexual violence

France24 – AFP, 9 Dec 2018

Murad and Mukwege will be jointly presented with the prize in Oslo on Monday for
"their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed
conflict"    Oslo (AFP)

Nobel peace laureates Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege said Sunday they hoped their award would help them push the international community to act to end rape in conflict and deliver justice for victims.

Yazidi activist Murad and Congolese doctor Mukwege will be jointly presented with the prize in Oslo on Monday for "their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict".

Murad, 25, who was taken hostage in Iraq by the Islamic State group (IS) in 2014 but escaped, said the prize was an honour for all of her Yazidi community, and "a sign" for the thousands of women still held by jihadists.

"This prize, one prize cannot remove all the violence and all the attacks on pregnant women, on children, on women and give them justice," she told a press conference in Oslo.

But she said she hoped it would "open doors so that we can approach more governments", to bring the perpetrators to court and "so that we can find a solution and actually stop what is happening".

Fellow laureate Mukwege, who has spent two decades treating rape victims at his hospital in conflict-torn eastern DR Congo, said the Nobel spotlight made it harder for the world to ignore sexual violence.

"We cannot say that we didn't act because we didn't know. Now everyone knows. And I think now the international community has a responsibility to act," he said.

He said the prize was not a "victory", but could be seen "as the start of a new struggle, a new struggle against this type of evil".

Murad has spent the years since her escape campaigning for the Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking community that follows an ancient religion and was targeted by IS as it swept through her homeland.

More than 6,800 Yazidis were kidnapped, of whom 4,300 either escaped or were bought as slaves, while 2,500 remain missing, according to a recent report from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

The United Nations is due to send a team into Iraq next year to investigate atrocities, following a Security Council resolution in September 2017 to bring those responsible for IS war crimes to justice.

The UN has described the massacre of the Yazidis by IS jihadists as possible genocide.

Murad, now a UN ambassador for victims of human trafficking living in Germany, said the "steps towards justice" had given her hope.

But she stressed that "not a single ISIS terrorist" has appeared in court, adding "this injustice will continue in this world if it is not dealt with now".

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Catholic Church beatifies 19 slain clerics in Algeria's Oran

France24 –AFP,  8 Dec 2018

French Catholic monk Brother Jean-Pierre Schumacher (L) greets a man ahead
of the beatification ceremony for 19 Catholic clergy in Agleria's northwestern city
of Oran on Saturday French Catholic monk Brother Jean-Pierre Schumacher (L)
greets a man ahead of the beatification ceremony for 19 Catholic clergy in
Agleria's northwestern city of Oran on Saturday AFP

The Catholic Church beatified in the city of Oran on Saturday seven French monks and 12 other clergy killed during Algeria's civil war, the first ceremony of its kind in a Muslim nation.

May "Monsignor Pierre Claverie... and his 18 companions, faithful messengers of the Gospel, humble artisans of peace... from now on be called blessed," said papal envoy Cardinal Angelo Becciu, reading the decree of beatification, the first step on the path to Roman Catholic sainthood.

Claverie, 58, was killed with his driver on August 1, 1996 when a remote-controlled bomb exploded at his residence in Oran.

He was among 19 clergy to be beatified, after their murders in a series of grisly atrocities between 1994 and 1996.

The ceremony was held under tight security at the esplanade of the Chapel of our Lady of Santa Cruz overlooking the Mediterranean city.

Some 1,200 people attended the ceremony, including pilgrims, relatives and friends of the beatified, many of whom came from abroad.

Opening the ceremony, Archbishop Paul Desfarges of Algiers paid tribute to "the thousands and thousands of victims of the Algerian civil war", describing them as anonymous heroes.

A minute of silence was then observed.

Algeria's 1991-2002 war between government forces and Islamists left up to 200,000 people dead.

In a message read during the ceremony by Becciu, Pope Francis spoke of his hope that "this celebration helps to heal the wounds of the past and create a new dynamic of meeting and living together".

The 19 clergy were declared martyrs by the Vatican in January 2018, since they were slain "in odium fidei", or out of hatred for the faith.

Pope Francis himself spoke of the beatification in prayers at Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican on Saturday.

"May this beatification be an incentive for all to build a world of fraternity and solidarity together", the pope said.

Haunted by colonial past, Belgium's Africa museum reopens after revamp

MSN – Yahoo, Dave Clark, Matthieu DEMEESTERE , 8 Dec 2018 

The reopening comes amid debate about returning stolen African artefacts (AFP)

Belgium's Africa Museum reopened on Saturday after a five-year restoration to repackage its looted treasures with a critical view of the country's brutal colonial past.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo hailed a "historic moment" and said it would open "a new chapter" in Belgian-African relations.

The reopening of the former Royal Museum for Central Africa in the Tervuren Palace outside Brussels comes amid a renewed European debate about returning stolen artefacts.

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to return 26 cultural artefacts to Benin "without delay", a move likely to put pressure on other former colonial powers to return African artworks to their countries of origin.

Macron said the decision should not be seen as an isolated or symbolic case and proposed a conference in Paris next year to discuss an "exchange policy" for African treasures.

"Restitution should no longer be taboo," De Croo said on Saturday adding, however, that any returns should be dependant on certain conservation conditions being met.

"It is clear that this implies a respectful attitude on the part of the African authorities with regard to this artistic heritage," he said.

Before it closed for refurbishment in 2013, visitors to the Belgian museum were greeted by a statue uncritically depicting white European missionaries "bringing civilisation to Congo".

The museum's research team insists the exhibits will now take a much more critical approach to the depredations of King Leopold II and his agents in Congo.

With the help of multimedia displays and detailed captions, visitors will be encouraged to take a critical view and to see colonialism through African eyes.

The museum's academic experts say there is no attempt to cover up the past, but rather to use the collection of 125,000 ethnographic objects more educationally.

Despite the new approach more in keeping with Belgium's multicultural present, the revamp has not been without controversy.

Activists are demanding a proper memorial to seven Congolese who died in 1897 after being brought to Belgium as living exhibits. They are buried near the Tervuren estate.

Paula Polanco told AFP her group, Intal-Congo, wanted them to be recognised as "victims of a colonialist crime".

Belgium's current king, Philippe, meanwhile declined an invitation to the reopening.

The Belgian colonies, run as a private royal estate by Leopold II, covered lands now included in independent Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

These countries have suffered a turbulent modern history and for European experts, in DR Congo's case at least, lack premises to properly house a national history collection.

DR Congo's President Joseph Kabila, however, has said he plans to formally request the return of art and records before his country's own museum opens next year.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Restitution of African art from France: "We need this memory"

Yahoo – AFP, Sophie BOUILLON, with African bureau, November 24, 2018

Benin's artefacts from the era of the Kingdom of Dahomey, including these royal
statues, are among 70,000 African objects kept at the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques
Chirac in Paris -- but France says it plans to return 26 works plundered in 1892
"without delay" (AFP Photo/GERARD JULIEN)

Lagos (AFP) - The debate over the restitution of thousands of African cultural artefacts from France has become heated, but in West Africa conservators prefer to call it "collaboration" and are preparing for their return.

The French presidency announced on Friday night that it was restoring "without delay" 26 works plundered by the French army in 1892 and claimed by the authorities in Benin.

The recommendations come with the delivery of a non-binding report that proposes a change in legislation and urges the return of museum artefacts to Africa from France.

Alain Godonou, a Beninese conservator responsible for heritage at the new national agency for tourism promotion in Benin, has been working on this issue for more than 30 years and says now is the time for reflection.

The small West African country of Benin, formerly Dahomey, was home to the kingdom of Abomey (1600-1894) and priceless wealth.

But instead of sitting in the capital of Porto-Novo, the throne of King Glele from 1858 is one of the centrepieces of the 70,000 African objects kept at the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in Paris.

"To keep war booty in countries that are now friends and collaborate doesn't make sense," Godonou told AFP.

"It's a relief but it's only the beginning. There is still so much to be done so that our youth can access this heritage that will make them proud."

Several African countries including Benin, whose pictured 
funerary crown of the Kingdom of Dahomey is in Paris, 
are either planning new museums or looking to inaugurate 
venues already built to house their artistic heritage (AFP 
Photo/GERARD JULIEN)

Sensitive question

"We don't want them to have our objects just for the sake of it," Godonou continues.

"The cultural education of African youth is important and these objects will help to root them."

This includes a rehabilitation of museums. For years, Europeans have justified keeping the treasured artefacts by arguing that African countries didn't have the facilities to take care of their cultural heritage.

But in many countries -- including Senegal, Ivory Coast, Gabon and Benin -- plans are underway new museums have been built and plans are underway for yet more.

Beninese President Patrice Talon, whose goal is to make tourism one of the pillars of the national economy, has approved the sites for five museums that will open in 2020 to honour the kings of Abomey and the Amazons, the all-female military regiment in Dahomey.

The country's minister of foreign affairs Aurelien Agbenonci told AFP on Saturday the government is "delighted" with the decision, which he said was "an invitation to get to work quickly."

Ousmane Aledji, in charge of heritage for the Benin presidency, welcomed the "new form of cultural exchange" with France.

"We're not for a violent claim, but we want to put in place measures for progressive restitution," he says.

His sentiment was echoed in Abidjan, where the director of the museum of civilisation of Ivory Coast Silvie Memel Kassi said "it's not a bad thing in itself that they were preserved and indexed in France."

French President Emmanuel Macron, during a visit to 
Burkina Faso last year, said "Africa's heritage cannot just 
be in European private collections and museums"
(AFP Photo/ludovic MARIN)

"Ancestral pieces"

The national museum of Abidjan was renovated last year, but a larger museum is sill in the works.

In this case, said Kassi, "we could start talking about a definitive restitution."

She added that "the important thing is to work together, we want to have access to these objects, we need this memory, these objects are a memory."

In Dakar, the museum of black civilisation, whose inauguration is scheduled for December 6, will be ready one day to house the objects, pledges Kassi.

"We have operational reserves that can accommodate such objects," said the Senegalese museum director Hamady Bocoum, stressing the works may not necessarily end up in museums and could go back to communities who may "decide to put them in the altars of the ancestors."

"These works came from our ancestors," said Taho Toubo, a traditional leader from Ivory Coast.

"I pray for the ancestors that their pieces are returned."

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

UN lifts sanctions on Eritrea

Yahoo – AFP, Carole LANDRY, November 14, 2018

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki (L), Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (C)
and Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed met in northern Ethiopia to
push for regional economic development (AFP Photo/EDUARDO SOTERAS)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The UN Security Council on Wednesday lifted sanctions on Eritrea following a landmark peace deal with Ethiopia and a thaw with Djibouti that have buoyed hopes for positive change in the Horn of Africa.

The council unanimously adopted a British-drafted resolution lifting the arms embargo, all travel bans, asset freezes and targeted sanctions against Eritrea.

Eritrea and Ethiopia hailed the decision as a boost for regional stability, four months after the two countries signed a peace deal that ended two decades of hostility and led to friendlier relations with Djibouti.

Addressing the council after the vote, Eritrea's Charge D'affaires Amanuel Giorgio said his government had long considered the sanctions "unwarranted" and declared: "the long overdue call for justice is finally answered."

Eritrea "is determined to redouble its own efforts and work closely with its neighbors to build a region at peace with itself," said Giorgio.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a statement that "the lifting of sanctions will have far-reaching effects in improving the stability of the Horn of Africa" and normalizing relations.

The council slapped sanctions on Eritrea in 2009 for its alleged support of Al-Shabaab insurgents in Somalia, a claim Asmara has long denied.

The resolution acknowledged that UN monitors have "not found conclusive evidence that Eritrea supports Al-Shabaab" and declared that the sanctions and arms embargo ended with the adoption of the measure.

"The current developments will have, definitely, ripple effects in terms of economic progress, prosperity as well as human rights," Ethiopian Ambassador Taye Atske Selassie told reporters.

UN officials have reported serious abuses by the Eritrean government that have triggered a major exodus of Eritreans from their country.

UN keeps eye on Djibouti

Ethiopia and Somalia strongly supported calls to end sanctions, and negotiations over the past two weeks focused on addressing concerns about Djibouti.

The resolution calls on Eritrea and Djibouti to press on with efforts to settle a 2008 border dispute and asks Asmara to release information concerning Djiboutian soldiers missing in clashes a decade ago.

At France's request, the council will hear a report every six months on Eritrea's efforts to normalize relations with Djibouti, where France, the United States and China all have military bases.

Djibouti is asking the United Nations to help broker a final settlement with Eritrea to agree on land and maritime boundaries and resolve a dispute over the Doumeira Island, Ambassador Mohamed Siad Doualeh told the council.

The fate of 13 remaining Djiboutian prisoners in Eritrean custody must be addressed, he added.

Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in the early 1990s, and war broke out later that decade over a border dispute.

A 2002 UN-backed boundary demarcation was meant to settle the dispute for good, but Ethiopia refused to abide by it.

A turnaround began in June when Ethiopia announced it would hand back to Eritrea disputed areas including the flashpoint town of Badme, where the first shots of the border war were fired.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

In Kenya, free cash is the latest solution to poverty

Yahoo – AFP, Nicolas DELAUNAY, October 28, 2018

Somes villagers in western Kenya are receiving a universal basic income, an
experimental programme by the American NGO Give Directly as a way to
reduce poverty (AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi CHIBA)

Bondo (Kenya) (AFP) - Until recently, Molly struggled to imagine life beyond the end of each repetitive day: work in someone else's fields and earn enough to eat, rinse, repeat.

"It was a vicious circle I could not escape," says the 25-year-old villager in the Bondo region of western Kenya.

Her hardscrabble, rural existence is the same for many in Siaya County where people eke out a living farming maize, millet and cotton in the ochre soil.

But that was before the introduction in her village of a cash handout known as "universal basic income". It's part of a large, intensive, multi-year study aimed at discovering a new way to end poverty in Africa.

Molly began receiving a no-strings, fixed monthly donation of 2,250 shillings ($22, 19 euros) two years ago, and since then "everything has changed", she says.

"I was able to save to study to be a nursery school teacher," she says proudly inside her tin-roofed cement home as chickens pecked outside.

"It was the little bit of help that turned my situation around."

With a paid internship at the village school Molly has built on the foundation of universal basic income to see her monthly income more than double to $50, broadening her horizons.

"Before, I barely had enough money to survive but now I have plans... I even go to the hairdresser once every two months," she says with a smile.

25-year-old Molly has used her universal basic income to study to be a nursery
school teacher (AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi CHIBA)

Same cash, different dreams

According to the World Bank, over a third of Kenya's nearly 50 million citizens live below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day.

Molly's village -- which is not being identified in order not to stir envy or skew the study -- is one of scores in the area chosen by the US charity Give Directly to test the universal basic income theory.

The region was selected because of its poverty, but also its stability and, crucially, the effectiveness of Kenya's mobile money transfer system, M-Pesa, that allows the easy distribution of payments.

Founded in 2010 and working in six African countries, Give Directly sends money straight to the poor allowing them to choose their own priorities, rather than outsiders "deciding instead of them", explains the non-profit's spokeswoman Caroline Teti.

Previously, recipients were given a single lump sum, but now monthly payments are being trialed.

"When you give people money monthly, will they stop working? Will they take risks in the way they invest knowing they will have an income whatever happens? How does that affect their aspirations?" says Teti of some of the questions their programme is testing.

A villager shows his mobile phone's monitor displaying a message confirming the 
universal basic income transaction, 2,250 shillings per month ($22,19 euros) 
(AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi CHIBA)

"There is a global debate about universal income and we want evidence to move forward," she says.

The study is the biggest in the world and will involve a total of 20,000 people in western Kenya.

Residents of 40 villages will receive $22 a month for 12 years, a further 80 villages will receive the same amount for just two years, while another 76 villages will receive two lump sum payments of $507 spaced two months apart.

Molly's neighbour, 29-year-old Edwin, hopes to replace his mud hut with a cement home, while Monica and her husband have invested in small-scale chicken farming.

"We have a new enclosure and a few chickens," says Monica, 30, wearing an elegant black dress, mended in several places. She hopes to be able to send her three children to school so that they won't "live in poverty, like us".

Without patronising prescriptions from donors, "everyone in the village is using the money differently," she adds.

'Not the sole solution'

Give Directly believes universal basic income is useful, but not a panacea.

30-year-old Monica, hopes to send her children to school so they won't "live in 
poverty, like us" (AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi CHIBA)

"When you are in a conflict situation, you may have been affected beyond basic (needs), you may not have a place to sleep, you're more vulnerable to disease," says Teti.

"In that context, basic income can be a part of a solution, but it cannot be the sole solution."

Nor, she adds, is it a substitute for the state's obligations to provide life's basics such as schools and healthcare.

For villagers involved in the basic income experiment, the money is an assist not a solution, and also an opportunity, to be seized or squandered.

"2,250 shillings is not enough to buy useless things," says Judge Samson, 72, explaining why villagers are not wasting their cash handouts. "It's just enough to feed you and get out of poverty."

Monica has invested her money to benefit her family, but worries that if the basic income trial is a success, others might prove less thrifty.

"Maybe in the future some will forget what we went through and start buying stupid things," she warns, but then adds: "I don't think that will be the case."